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6 to 8
Lior Lev Sercarz, from "Mastering Spice" by Lior Lev Sercarz
4 whole dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried sage (1 gram)
11⁄2 teaspoons dried thyme (1 gram)
1 teaspoon Muntok white peppercorns (3 grams)
2 1/2 teaspoons dried garlic slices (4 grams)
Finely grind together the bay leaves, sage, thyme, peppercorns, and garlic.
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3 medium), scrubbed and cut into 3⁄4-inch chunks
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup cold salted butter, cut into cubes
Coat the bottom of a large nonstick skillet with oil (3 to 4 tablespoons), then heat over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the potatoes, season them very generously with salt, and spread them in a single layer (this will prevent the spices from hitting the hot oil directly and burning). Sprinkle the spice blend over the potatoes and stir well to evenly coat the potatoes.
Cover and cook, stirring and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan every 5 minutes or so, until the potatoes develop a deep brown crust and are almost tender, about 10 minutes. If the spices threaten to burn, reduce the heat. Every time you lift the lid, carefully tilt it to let the condensation on the lid drip back into the pan.
Carefully add ¼ cup water to the skillet, immediately cover, and reduce the heat to low. After the oil popping stops, uncover and stir the potatoes. Cover and cook until the potatoes are completely tender and a little glazed, about 5 minutes.
Add milk when the potatoes are completely tender and a little glazed. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are starting to fall apart, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a food mill along with butter. Pass through the food mill, then season to taste with salt. For a super-smooth puree, pass it through a fine-mesh sieve, if desired. Serve hot.